Byron Bay has long been a meeting place for like-minded creatives to congregate and cultivate their best ideas. The local spirt has always called for an ‘all hands in’ approach, and Byron’s newest hotel is no exception. Welcome to The Sunseeker, where the joyful ideals from which it was born rest in the rooms, perch on the armchairs, and dip in the 1980’s retro shaped pool. A place where modernity and nostalgia are intertwined, The Sunseeker is the revival of a tired 1980’s motel that has been transformed in to a bright & breezy haven for those that seek an unforgettable stay in our beachside town. We spoke to Jess from The Sunseeker about their new 'home away from home.'
Tell us the story of how the keys of the Sunseeker ended up in your hands?
Dave and I have worked on a series of property projects in the past, and it was always our dream to one day create our own hotel. We looked around for a motel for some time, talking to friends till one day one of them approached us with an opportunity - this opportunity! It was like the stars had aligned.
The Sunseeker was born out of the desire to create an authentic experience that could be shared between family and friends. When did the calling to create this arise?
Dave and I have always enjoyed sharing the creative process together. Moving to Byron Bay a few years ago, we were rethinking how we were doing things, especially in terms of sustainability. We were avid travellers with young kids, we loved our home in Byron and wanted to create something that embodied the beauty of the town, in a way that was low-key.
Revitalising the hotel sustainably was a challenge you set yourselves, can you please talk us through some of your favourite sustainable features the hotel adopted?
To us, sustainability is a change in attitude - a mindset. In the way we do things. From the moment we had a building site we were consciously making decisions to ensure rubbish was disposed of thoughtfully. We re-used tiles from the original design, and installed bench tops from Five Mile Radius which is a local business that salvages and makes use of waste concrete. On all of our buildings we have solar panels and every bungalow has their own water tank. Recently we planted herb gardens and will soon have our own flow bee hive. Obviously this route is more time consuming, but this was non negotiable for us.
'Holiday Often’ is great advice, what would you say the overall philosophy of your hotel would be?
There was an Italian phrase we kept referring to throughout the process that translates in English as 'Effortless Charm.' We wanted to create magic in all aspects, we wanted that magic to be felt even when you leave.
Obviously an appreciation for great design is apparent in what you have created - what were your biggest design inspirations for the hotel, and how do you feel that translates in the final design?
We have so many! Ibiza was a big one, huts on the beach where you could get fish and beer. I guess in that sense, simplicity and the value in simplicity. Flamingo Estate was inspiring in the way it felt like it gave us permission to just have fun and choose the things we wanted to put in there, to trust our gut instincts. Inspiration came to us organically throughout the whole process, while our vision was always there, we worked with so many creative minds that always brought something new to the table.
The hotel creates a perfect balance between old and new, modern yet nostalgic, tell us about the importance of both in your project?
We set on a mission to do things differently throughout our whole process. Here we were with a hotel in an unbelievable condition that had been well cared for that hadn't been upgraded in 40 years. As part of the sustainability model we wanted to respect the heritage of the hotel, whilst modernising it and sprinkling magic back in to it to give it a new life. We worked with the structure that was there and decided also to keep the brick as it was so symbolic of its era. I love nostalgia, and feel the past is part of the future. We often looked back upon our childhood in this project, asking ourselves what was special, what left an impression. We wanted to uphold this history.
We wanted to respect the heritage of the hotel, whilst modernising it and sprinkling magic back in to it to give it a new life.
What would have to be your favourite space or corner of the hotel and what happens there?
It would have to be the library. Which was an outpouring of creativity, and it ended up exactly as we envisioned and hoped it would. There you can find over one hundred library books that were curated by Good Publishings. We have seen our guests use this space as a place for their own creativity.
What do you feel the location of Byron Bay uniquely attributes to the hotel?
The natural beauty of all that is Byron Bay is what surrounds us and brings us here. We feel like the location is the real star of the show, it's our job to be the place to come home to after a day of adventuring this beautiful area.
We love that the Sunseeker was a collaborative and very local-minded project. Can you tell us a bit about the community of creatives who were involved with the project?
Obviously it started with Dave and I, but we had an opportunity to work with a dream-team of creatives, architect & builder Balanced Earth, landscape architects Land Company, Lila Theodoros at Studio Muse Muse on branding, graphic design and artwork, styling, sourcing and curation support by Julia Ashwood of The Vista and the creative consulting magic from Tory Bauer from Dance Card.
Tigmi is Berber for ‘my home’ what would you say is the homeliest feature in your ‘home away from home’?
All of it.
What is next on the horizon for you both?
Enjoying this moment!
The Sunseeker is located at 100 Bangalow Road, Byron Bay Australia